Last week there were a couple of awards ceremonies in London, where some suited and booted celebrities of the music world got to slap the backs and shake the hands of other neatly dressed types who frequent our gossip pages as often as they do the charts. Will she or won’t she? Is he or isn’t he? Show up or retire? Hold it together long enough for one song, let alone two?
Insert zzzzs. Does anyone care?
With both the MOBOs and the Vodafone Live Music Awards* going off like slightly dampened firecrackers and already faded from memory like Nizlopi's mainstream career, now comes the question: why are there so many award ceremonies these days, and do they truly matter? Patrick Watson won the Polaris Prize earlier this week and two readers chose to comment on our story. Not a big deal? Just another cheque in a series? Sure, the awards in question are Canadian, but Canadian music is A Big Deal, right? You’re telling me you don’t dig Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade, but you’re reading DiS? Get outta here.
The Mercury Prize, awarded to Klaxons earlier this month for their worthy Myths Of The Near Future, attracts a great deal of attention from the wider media, yet this year’s event was marred, rather, by the winners’ incoherent and near-nonsensical blathering in front of BBC cameras. “An advert for the horrors of coke” said one text, buzzing my mobile minutes after the announcement by Mister Jools. (DiS is not stating, factually, that the winners were on any sort of substance that might be somewhat illegal, but gosh weren’t they bouncy?!) The party might’ve been a lot of fun, but few involved came across with any decency so far as the televised coverage went: Young Knives, Fionn Regan and Natasha Khan, take a bow. Basquiat Strings: if modesty was the best policy you’d have pissed it.
With last year’s winners also a chart-conquering act of an already established nature too – that’d be Artic Monkeys, slow kids at the back – has the Mercury become just another awards ceremony, stripped of the prestige it seemed to have in its Portishead-triumphant halcyon days? It blurs into the Brits, which in turn mixes it up with the MOBOS, and then various mobile phone-sponsored run throughs of Virgin Express till rolls come on board and all of a sudden the likes of me – hello – get ever so confused. Who is supporting who here? Is Band X getting free wireless out of this deal? What the heck are The Stereophonics doing back on my television?
Are you buying records by the Best Newcomer at the Fones4Fools New Music Awards For Customers On 12-Month Contracts? Doubtful. Does an act winning any prize these days alert you to their talents, or have these things become a) predictable and b) swallowed with a healthy dose of scepticism? Probably not: chances are you knew ‘em before, downloaded the album and dismissed it as soon as the second single was A-listed. £50 man gets something to forget about in his glove compartment.
Of course, not all awards ceremonies are a waste of money, time and flashbulbs. The BT Digital Music Awards are just around the corner, October 2 to be precise, and DiS is nominated in a pair of categories. Loosely structured go-nowhere DiScussion piece to plug our own brilliance and beg you lovely, wonderful, gorgeous readers to vote for us at some evening of homogenised small talk, vague titillation and, probably, crushing defeat? You betcha. Click here and do, or don’t, the right thing.
Or DiScuss: regardless of your take on anything penned above, are there too many awards ceremonies, recognising and congratulating musicians of a very similar level (often the very same bands!) in today’s marketplace, and has the spread of them led to a depreciation of value in what are perceived to be the originals? Does a Brit award mean more than one voted for by customers of some high street store? If the Arctics don’t show up to the Vodafone awards, does it mean they don’t give a shit about it? If DiS won an award for this here website, would you all leave ‘cause we’d crossed over into some sort of digital mainstream? Would we be that CD, abandoned beneath Chris Rea’s The Road To Hell because of a chance channel hopping over to BBC Three and a column’s coverage in a broadsheet o' choice? Are any award ceremonies GOOD?
Is this about 700 words too long? DiScuss…
* Interestingly, this do features the 'Freddy Mercury Lifetime Achievement Award'. Who is Freddy Mercury, Freddie Mercury's double in some tribute band? Oh tsk, Vodafone. Tsk. And Mika: best live male? We're not talking anymore, you and I...